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The Dix Family: Dixes Never Quit!

For those of us who are newer to Ave Maria, it is hard to imagine the town without Maple Ridge, Publix, or the Oratory, but the Dix family knows the town before those things quite well. When they moved to Ave in 2007, the Oratory was just a skeleton of what it is now and the vast majority of the current residential areas were inhabited by wildlife alone.

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The patriarch of the Dix family, Daniel, was present for the groundbreaking procession as a couple hundred folks walked in prayer through the tomato fields and Ave Maria became a town. Daniel and Monica were also the first to sign a commitment to open a business in Ave Maria — that business was The Bean of Ave Maria.

Standing outside of Sunday Mass, Monica Dix, wife and mother of five, shares that their offertory envelope is number 27 — those envelopes were handed out to residents star ting with number one — another fact proving their status as one of the original families in Ave.

When they moved to Ave, they were a family of five, with the youngest two girls not having been born yet. Now, they are a family of seven with one dog, Bob Lee Swagger . The Dix girls are: Isabella Ray, “Bella,” 13; Gianna Carolina, “Gigi,” 10; Josephina Maria, “Josie,” 9; Gabriella Lucia, “Gabby,” 5; and Rosa Emiliana, 2. Daniel and Monica had very specific plans for their girls’ names. Firstly, all of their names have Italian roots, and most also honor a family member or patron saint. But secondly, Monica said, “we wanted to be sure their names could work if they wanted to be diplomats or rock stars.”

While unsure if the future has either of those two careers in store for any of the girls, their current interests are certainly varied, including track and field, martial arts, reading, sailing, fencing, book-writing, video game playing, and coding, to name a few.

While their schedules haven’t always been full with the multitude of activities they are now, Daniel and Monica are no strangers to long days and packed schedules. The two met while Monica was studying ceramics and sculpture at Carnegie Mellon University and Daniel was finishing up his degree in art history while working as an art conservator at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, PA. They fell in love and Daniel proposed while on a seven-week bike trip together in Europe.

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Monica, who was a cradle Catholic, although not practicing her faith at the time, wanted to get married in the Catholic Church. This was a bit of a problem for Daniel, who was a practicing Christian, but had no real allegiance to any particular denomination at the time. His problem came with the vow to raise his future children in the Catholic faith. Daniel took this vow very seriously. After discussing it with his own family and because it was something that Monica felt strongly about, the two were married in the Catholic Church.

Before they got married though,shortly after their engagement, Daniel left Pittsburgh to put his journalism degree to use by taking a job in management at a daily newspaper in his hometown of Wooster , OH. Monica wasn’t thrilled about the idea of moving to Wooster, so she stayed in Pennsylvania believing it might be easier to find work somewhere she was already comfortable.

It didn’t take her long to realize that she needed to be where Daniel was, “I was like, ‘what am I doing? I’m ruining this relationship I’m supposed to be in’ — Daniel proposed! This isn’t just dating anymore’ — I had made a commitment to Dan. And ultimately,

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Donahue Shamrock Football – 2016 Home Game Schedule

Let’s go Shamrocks! Click the image for a larger view:

sched

More information is available here.

No Surprise: Ave Maria is a rapidly growing traditional college town with a Catholic heart

 

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Those who haven’t been paying attention might not realize just how nice Ave Maria is and why it has attracted several hundreds of homebuyers in the past two years. The latest video about the town is very well done. It hits all the points. The tag line is: “Ave Maria. Life. Made Simple.”

And it’s all true. Ave Maria is a rapidly growing traditional college town with something for all ages and for everyone who loves family, friends, faith, sports, art, education and old fashioned hometown values. And one drive or stroll through town will help you see that Ave Maria is the town with a Catholic heart. And, as the video reminds us, Ave Maria has 100 miles of trails!

Ave Maria is the home of Ave Maria University, the Donohue Catholic prep school, the Ave Maria Montessori School and a homeschool co-op. The town is also home to Arthrex‘s large (and expanding) medical device factory, as well as many other businesses including a Publix grocery store.  Five health care providers offer services in town: the Braden Clinic offers primary care physician appointments onsite five days a week and can also make house calls, Ave Maria Chiropractic provides services in town, physical therapy is offered by ResultsCare, dental and orthodontic services are offered by Ave Maria Dentistry, and massage therapy is offered 5 days a week via house call or at the Oasis Club by Ave Maria Massage.

Recently Ave Maria was named one of the top 50 master planned communities in the country, and was also named one of the top 20 communities for those who are retiring.

Robb Klucik has lived with his family in Ave Maria since it opened in 2007. In addition to running his law practice in Ave Maria, Robb edits this blog, administers a facebook forum for 1000 Ave Maria residents, serves as the President of the West Point Society of Naples, and enjoys spending time with his family and friends.

Towey no fan of Crist, but we can all be fans of Towey

Yesterday’s Tampa Bay Times highlighted some Florida history perhaps unknown to many Ave Maria residents. It involves AMU president Jim Towey and former GOP governor Charlie Crist.

Towey on crist

While infamous for his deep orange tan, Mr. Crist’s more substantive notoriety is as the sitting Republican governor who opted not to run for re-election in 2010 so that he could run for the U.S. senate, lost the GOP senate primary to Marco Rubio, and instantly morphed into a liberal independent to run against Rubio in the general election.

Rubio victory speech

Crist (who in prior campaigns advocated abolishing the IRS, bringing back chain gangs, and impeaching Bill Clinton – and who as governor actually appointed key Clinton impeachment leader Charles Canady to be a Florida Supreme Court Justice) ran an embarrassing campaign and was soundly defeated by Rubio.

crist flip flop

Soon afterward Crist joined one of Florida’s most well-known personal injury law firms, Morgan & Morgan, whose ubiquitous media ads include advocacy for legalizing medical marijuana. Crist himself became a TV pitchman for the firm.

Crist for the people

Then in 2012, Crist – still an independent – emerged to endorse Barack Obama during a televised speech at the Democratic National Convention, after which Crist joined the Democrat party.

Charlie Crist Republican Turncoat

Which brings us to yesterday’s lengthy article that tries to answer the question “Who is Charlie Crist?”, just as Crist signals the start of a campaign to do what “now should be impossible… to be governor as a Republican and then governor, again, just four years later, as a Democrat.” In trying to answer that question, the journalist highlighted a 1995 incident involving Crist and Jim Towey:

Today, Crist talks about civility and bipartisanship, but Florida’s last Democratic governor [Lawton Chiles] saw Crist as the main obstacle to that. For instance, Jim Towey, Chiles’ idealistic, outspoken head of social services and a former aide to Mother Teresa, lost his post because of Crist’s committee [Senate Committee on Executive Business, Ethics and Elections]. Towey is now the president of Ave Maria University near Naples. He shakes his head that Crist is campaigning as a friend of black voters when he played such a key role in putting so many of them behind bars and in chain gangs. “He can change his image, but he can’t change the facts,” Towey said. “What I see Charlie Crist doing today is the same thing I saw him doing 20 years ago. He’s a master at media manipulation.”

Back then, according to Towey, Crist was gracious to him in private even while ripping him in public. Years later, Crist ran into Towey at the White House, where Towey led President George W. Bush’s faith-based initiatives. Crist greeted him cheerfully, like they were longtime pals, “happily saying hi to my wife and me when he led my firing when we had two little kids under 3 years old,” Towey said. “To him, it was all forgotten. Didn’t mean a thing. That’s how the guy is wired.” Cordial or pathological? Decorous or two-faced? The velvet glove was open to interpretation.

towey last day

To be sure, prior to Towey’s initial appointment as Florida’s head of social services everyone knew the agency was in terrible shape and it would be an extremely difficult job. And shortly after the senate fired him the legislature split the huge behemoth agency into two agencies. To be sure, Charlie Crist’s career proves him to be the epitome of a political opportunist – which makes Towey’s remarks ring all the more true.

Some readers might remember a bit about this incident – it was mentioned in passing when Towey first came to Ave Maria. The fact that it was highlighted again this week can serve as a reminder of the weight of experience and the breadth of contacts (seems pretty obvious when a man has been advisor to a saint, a president, a governor, and a senator*) that Jim brings to his office each day as the president of AMU. We can all keep praying that he continues to use them for the success of the institution so dear to our town, and we can thank him for working in earnest to be a man of virtue who is not afraid to take on very difficult challenges.

*Blessed Mother Teresa, President George W. Bush, Governor Lawton Chiles, and Senator Mark Hatfield

Synod on Family and Evangelization highlights what Ave Maria must guard against

synod-of-bishops

Does anyone remember this request for input? Those questions were geared toward the Church’s Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops that will discuss The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization, to be held in October.

In late June the Vatican published the working document (instrumentum laboris) for this synod. The entire document is worth reading. Among its 159 paragraphs are two that people in Ave Maria (her founders, leaders, residents and parishioners) might find interesting because they seem to re-state some of the criticisms that have been aimed at Ave Maria. These are the two paragraphs:

Support for a Familial Spirituality

58. Many bishops’ conferences recount how particular Churches render support to a familial spirituality in their pastoral activity. In our time, spiritual movements make a special contribution to promoting an authentic, effective pastoral programme for the family. Christian communities are characterized by a variety of ecclesial situations and approaches aimed at specific individuals. Clearly, local Churches should be able to find that this richness is a real resource for not only promoting various initiatives on behalf of couples intending marriage but devising ways to provide suitable pastoral care for families today. Some respondents recount that many dioceses foster specific endeavours and formation for couples who can then provide support to other couples and sustain a series of initiatives to promote a true familial spirituality. Some argue that sometimes local communities, movements, groups and religious associations can be exclusive and too restrictive in the life of a parish. This situation illustrates the importance of their being fully engaged with the whole Church in an authentic sense of mission so as to avoid the danger of excessively looking inward. Families belonging to these communities exercise a vibrant apostolate and, judging from the past, are instrumental in the evangelization of many families. Their members offer a credible witness with their lives of fidelity in marriage, mutual respect, unity and openness to life.

Counter-Witness in the Church

75. Responses from almost every part of the world frequently refer to the sexual scandals within the Church (pedophilia, in particular) and, in general, to a negative experience with the clergy and other persons. Sex scandals significantly weaken the Church’s moral credibility, above all in North America and northern Europe. In addition, a conspicuously lavish lifestyle by some of the clergy shows an inconsistency between their teaching and their conduct. Some lay faithful live and practice their faith in a “showy manner,” failing to display the truth and humility required by the Gospel spirit. The responses lament that persons who are separated, divorced or single parents sometimes feel unwelcome in some parish communities, that some clergy are uncompromising and insensitive in their behavior; and, generally speaking, that the Church, in many ways, is perceived as exclusive, and not sufficiently present and supportive. In this sense, an open and positive pastoral approach is needed, one which can restore confidence in the institution through a credible witness by all her members.

While perception is not always reality, it is true that perception can be an impediment to winning people over for Christ. If we are not careful, without us realizing it the project of Ave Maria might overshadow the reason for the project, that is Christ.* If we love this reason and wish to serve Him and lead others to know Him, it seems we will at least keep these things in mind, and perhaps take the occasion of this Synod to come up with ways our community can address these concerns.

Undated handout photo of Argentine Cardinal Bergoglio and family members

Before he was pope: Fr. Bergoglio with his family.

*See Msgr. Lorenzo Albecete, “A Presence, Not Utopia,” Traces, No. 11, December 1,  2007.

Joseph Pearce: not a nice guy

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Our former neighbor, writer Joseph Pearce, is someone many of us in Ave Maria admire and miss seeing around town. But that doesn’t mean he is a nice guy.* What are we to make of a guy who claims that the Arabic writing is on the wall?

Joseph-Pearce

Nevertheless, according to the folks at Father Robert Barron’s Word on Fire blog, Pearce’s newest book is worth reading. Likewise, according to the Integrated Catholic Life blog:

…his brand new book, Beauteous Truth: Faith, Reason, Literature & Culture… explores the connection between the Good, the True and the Beautiful [and] makes the important connections between faith and reason and between theology, philosophy, history and literature…

If you enjoy Joseph’s work then you might want to visit the journal he edits, Saint Austin Review. In the meantime we will continue to miss him as we pray for the success of his newest endeavor as director of the Center for Faith & Culture at Aquinas College in Nashville, Tennessee.

beauty pearce

* Read the link before jumping to conclusions.

Philosophers on a Mountain Top

These two are among the men who call Ave Maria home. It will be interesting to hear more about their escapade over a bourbon or some wine. Let us pray they came back refreshed and ready to inspire their students and contribute to the Academy.

Michael Pakaluk

Mt Jefferson

Michael Waldstein, my colleague in theology, an experienced Alpinist from his youth in Salzburg, with me on the summit of Mt Jefferson, on the last day of a writing retreat in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

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